cape town aerial view coastline
Cape Town, South Africa

Ocean Conservation & Sustainability




3 weeks



Extended Deadline

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Program Overview
Take a deep dive into ocean conservation in Cape Town and encounter first-hand its unique and biodiverse ecosystems.  

Observe the rarest of species as local marine scientists introduce you to Cape Town’s ocean life. Through field work out at sea and in coastal areas, see firsthand how human activity and biodiversity impact sustainability. Team up with other Global Navigators to imagine solutions for global marine issues. 

Despite the wintry weather, enjoy hiking, swimming, and snorkeling. Conduct research up close to African penguins and other colorful creatures in False Bay and Cape Whale Coast—locations critical to the health of the ocean. On dry land, adventures await! At the Two Oceans Aquarium, go behind the scenes where water pumps hum and divers put on their gear. In the Cape Floristic Region, discover the highest concentration of plant species on the planet. On safari at the Aquila Private Game Reserve, track wildlife and learn about carbon footprint reduction projects. 

Take part in South African traditions and meet local teens, too! Share authentic dishes, like koeksisters (similar to donuts) and boerewors (sausage rolls), and even forage for food on hikes in the wild! 

The Take-Aways

Real-World Experience

Alongside Cape Town's passionate oceanographers, conduct field work and assess ecosystem threats. Conduct research on a sustainability challenge and come home ready to take action on environmental initiatives.

Credentials for Your Future

Topics for your college essays, experience to inform your future career, a portfolio of work to showcase your sustainability research and reflections, and service learning hours documenting your engagement with the community.

Life Skills and New Friendships

Return with greater self-confidence, independence, and improved communication skills. Enjoy a broader worldview and friends of different backgrounds from across the U.S.


Hours of Expert Instruction


Hours of Service Learning in the Community


Life-Changing Experience

The Destination
  • rhino safari tour study abroad
  • cape town seals beach
  • south africa cape town ocean bridge

The Destination

Welcome to Cape Town, to dramatic scenery and endless ocean views.  

On the most southern tip of the African continent is Cape Town. Here you’ll always be surrounded by natural landmarks, stunning beaches, and two oceans—the warm Indian Ocean and the ice-cold Atlantic Ocean. From the flat top of Table Mountain that towers over the city, take in the wide view out to Table Bay. Travel an hour for field work in the Cape Floristic Region and you’ll be in a hotspot of biodiversity and a Natural World Heritage Site.   

Often referred to as “The Mother City,” Cape Town was the first settlement in South Africa. The city has experienced rapid growth and is often listed among the most popular destinations around the world. Modern and sophisticated, Cape Town offers much to do: hiking, museums, shopping at markets, and restaurants, and plenty of opportunities to interact with Cape Town's diverse population. It also invites reflection on how the city’s rapid growth has impacted biodiversity and on how it grapples with the socioeconomic inequalities born from South Africa’s colonial and apartheid past. 

Cultural Awareness

CIEE wants all our students to feel welcomed, supported, and empowered to succeed while studying abroad. Local CIEE staff have provided details about conditions and cultural attitudes that students with specific identities might encounter in Cape Town. 

Daily Life

Daily Life


Each day offers a balance between interactive instruction and cultural activities with time on your own, too. Morning classes and afternoon activities may swap places. 

  • Breakfast at the hostel/hotel
  • Hands-on classes with expert local instructors and marine biologists 
  • Lunch in the community or in the field with your fellow Global Navigators 
  • Outdoor activities, community service, or cultural activities 
  • Dinner in the community or in the field 


  • Overnight or day excursions to top natural attractions 
  • Quality time with friends 


Hostel/hotel, shared rooms with other Global Navigators

24/7 Support

1 Program Leader for every 12 students and support from local staff

Program Blogs


Days 16-19: Cooking with Kelp and a Safari.

By Laura Biggs at CIEE

Awe inspiring views and new foods


Days 12-15 Busy and Fun!

By Laura Biggs at CIEE

So busy and so fun


Days 8-10: IsiXhosa, Cooking, and Cleanups

By Laura Biggs at CIEE

For days 8-10 of our trip, we had a lot of learning to do! We began our IsiXhosa lessons where we practiced the local language, learned to cook from a... keep reading


Sample Activities

Penguins on the beach in Cape Town

Just Imagine All the Fun You’ll Have!

  • Go behind the “staff-only” access doors at the Two Oceans Aquarium, named best Responsible Attraction in Africa in 2019, and get a sneak peek at animal feedings and health checks.   
  • Take an overnight excursion to the Aquila Private Game Reserve—try to spot the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, Cape buffalo, and African elephant) and experience breath-taking African sunsets! 
  • Thaw fish to nourish endangered seabirds at the world-renowned SANCCOB Seabird Centre, and sink into the Save Our Seas Shark Education Centre at False Bay to immerse yourself in marine knowledge of sharks, local biodiversity, rock pools, and more. 
  • Get your penguin fix on a day trip to the most south-westerly point of the African continent. 
  • Food forage at the coastline on wildly delicious adventures to discover edible mushrooms, seaweeds, shellfish, flowers, roots, shoots, and more. 

Please note activities are based on past programs and subject to change at CIEE's discretion to adapt to local circumstances and participant feedback. Our goal when arranging activities is always to enhance your experience. 

What Students Are Saying

  • “I had such an amazing experience in Cape Town and loved waking up every morning to a view of Table Mountain. I could not have asked for anything better.”

    Natalie L., Global Navigator Alum

  • “It’s an enriching experience that not only teaches you about the subject of the trip, but it makes you learn how to be a mature adult and gives you a chance to make good friends.”

    Xitlali R., Global Navigator Alum

  • “I absolutely loved every aspect of my time in Cape Town. I felt that my time flew by way too quickly!”

    Menatallah B., Global Navigator Alum

  • “CIEE Global Navigator High School Summer Abroad is like a hammer. Some people are always staying inside their own shell, oftentimes without noticing it themselves. And this hammer comes to break the shell in a good way, for the person to see what’s outside their zone!”

    Ricky K., Global Navigator Alum



  • Participants must be 14 years old and above.
  • Program open to all current high school students: Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors.  
  • For scholarship eligibility requirements, please check our Scholarship page
  • This program involves engaging in moderate- to high-intensity physical activities, such as hiking, and extended observational time outdoors. 

For more information, refer to the detailed Program Essential Eligibility Criteria.

Dates & Fees

Dates & Fees

Application Fee


Program scholarships and tuition include iNext Travel Insurance, but do not cover the cost of flights. Find additional details about what’s included with your tuition.   

More questions? Find answers, get application support, sign up for virtual presentations or contact us.


Application Due

Start Date

End Date


Program Summer Session II 2024 3 weeks Start Date End Date Costs $5,750

What's Included

Interactive Classes


3 Meals/Day

(Dietary Needs Accommodated)

All Ground Transportation

(Once In-country)

Optional Flight Chaperone

(Flight Cost Not Included)

Pre-departure Advice and Orientation

Access to Local Phone and WIFI

All Cultural Activities and Excursions

Comprehensive Medical and Travel Protection

24/7 Emergency On-site Support

Our Staff

Our Staff

Nompilo Ndlovu

Center Director

Dr. Nompilo Ndlovu has over a decade of experience working within the academic, policy and non-profit sectors, focused on the African continent.

Ready to change your life?

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